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I get a lot of questions from beginning gardeners, and there is much to say. There are vegetable, flower, and herb varieties that will be easy for you to grow that make you feel like an experienced gardener, get you excited about gardening, and keep you motivated throughout the season. This blog will outline specific plants to get started with, but if you're a true beginner, also give this post a read for a comprehensive overview of gardening.
Don’t struggle! Start of with some of these plants.
- Bush and pole beans - I worked on an organic farm in 1983. The owner said to me, ‘If you want to feel like a farmer, grow beans.’ Beans are reliable, robust, fail proof, and delicious.
- Radishes – You can harvest radishes in 28 days for almost-instant gratification.
- Zucchini – Do your neighbors give you their extra zucchini every year? That’s because it is prolific, even in bad years.
Other easy vegetables are:
- lettuce mix
- greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc)
I recommend buying herbs as starts from a garden center. They are finicky from seed and frustrating for beginners. Annual herbs grow for one season. Perennial herbs come back every year, and are the one of the first things to harvest in spring, making you ‘feel like a farmer’.
- Basil – This annual herb does well in a container. Keep it near the kitchen door for fresh use. Pluck flowers off for best flavor.
- Dill – Good for leaves and seeds, dill is a tall, feathery reseeding annual needing little care.
- Chives – This is a perennial that you will see in spring as soon as the snow melts. The leaves and flowers are edible.
- Other easy herbs are cilantro, parsley, the mints, thyme, sage, oregano, and tarragon.
Flowers are food for the soul. Many petals are edible, too, adding zing and color to your dishes. Like herbs, there are annuals and perennials - annuals being the best flowers for beginners to plant.
- Marigolds – These come in many colors and sizes. Plant them around the garden to repel insects.
- Sunflowers – Plant the seeds right where you want them, and watch them take off. Birds snack on the seed heads in late summer.
- Johnny Jump Ups (Viola) – These tiny pansy-looking flowers are colorful and edible! They reseed easily, and will come back if they’re in a warm spot.
- Other fail-proof flowers are cosmos and zinnias.
Easy edible flowers are:
- and the squash blossoms from your prolific zucchini!
Start small and stay motivated
Begin with these easy plants, and experiment with the fussier ones and perennials once you ‘feel like a farmer’. For reliable gardening advice, follow Rodale’s Organic Life and Mother Earth News. Also, talk to local gardeners, who will understand your specific conditions. You can’t beat local advice.
And always garden organically to protect the earth and our precious pollinators.